Fans For Diversity support landmark Panjab FA fixture against England C
Photo Credit: Ryan Butler
The Fans For Diversity campaign supported a landmark moment for football on Sunday (28 May) as Panjab FA took on England C in the first ever fixture between a South Asian football team and an English national side.
The fixture was dedicated to Fans For Diversity, an initiative run in partnership by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation, who helped to organise the match and produced the matchday programme for a wonderful afternoon with over 1000 supporters at Solihull Moors.
Anwar Uddin, lead on the Fans For Diversity campaign, was thrilled to be involved in setting up the game and hailed it as a key moment in the development of footballing talent in the Panjabi community.
“The work that Panjab FA and Harpreet Singh (founder and chairman) have done over the last few years is nothing short of incredible, and a game against an England team is a recognition of that. The standard of football on show from both sides was excellent.”
“For too long, the game has failed to engage with underrepresented communities, so here at Fans For Diversity we feel it’s vital to support projects and events like these that celebrate the inclusion of people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
Anwar’s words echoed those of Harpreet, who spoke to Kick It Out ahead of the game.
“For me personally I am a Panjabi patriot but most importantly I am a champion of opportunities,” he said. “My vision is to help people pursue and achieve their dreams. I’m also a champion of inclusion and diversity and the Panjab FA represents the definition of opportunity.
“The Panjab FA is also a social sporting movement because we want to enhance people’s lives. A great man once said ‘sport is more powerful than governments at breaking down barriers’ – and I believe it speaks to a younger generation like nothing else can. So sport is a powerful tool.”
The game itself was closely contested, with England ‘C’ running away 2-1 winners thanks to a brace from Darren McQueen.
The Ebbsfleet United forward put England ahead on 34 minutes, before Raspal Virk reacted fastest to a James Montgomery error to equalise for Panjab not long after half-time.
McQueen was in no mood to settle for a draw, however, and less than 10 minutes later he secured the winner for England, after connecting with a David Ferguson cross that sailed past the keeper via a deflection.